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Br J Cancer. 2005 Mar 28;92(6):1137-43.

Aspirin-induced nuclear translocation of NFkappaB and apoptosis in colorectal cancer is independent of p53 status and DNA mismatch repair proficiency.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Division of Clinical and Molecular Medicine and MRC Human Genetics Unit, Western General Hospital, University of Edinburgh, Crewe Rd, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, Scotland, UK.


Substantial evidence indicates nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) protect against colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the molecular basis for this anti-tumour activity has not been fully elucidated. We previously reported that aspirin induces signal-specific IkappaBalpha degradation followed by NFkappaB nuclear translocation in CRC cells, and that this mechanism contributes substantially to aspirin-induced apoptosis. We have also reported the relative specificity of this aspirin-induced NFkappaB-dependent apoptotic effect for CRC cells, in comparison to other cancer cell types. It is now important to establish whether there is heterogeneity within CRC, with respect to the effects of aspirin on the NFkappaB pathway and apoptosis. p53 signalling and DNA mismatch repair (MMR) are known to be deranged in CRC and have been reported as potential molecular targets for the anti-tumour activity of NSAIDs. Furthermore, both p53 and MMR dysfunction have been shown to confer resistance to chemotherapeutic agents. Here, we set out to determine the p53 and hMLH1 dependency of the effects of aspirin on NFkappaB signalling and apoptosis in CRC. We specifically compared the effects of aspirin treatment on cell viability, apoptosis and NFkappaB signalling in an HCT-116 CRC cell line with the p53 gene homozygously disrupted (HCT-116(p53-/-)) and an HCT-116 cell line rendered MMR proficient by chromosomal transfer (HCT-116(+ch3)), to the parental HCT-116 CRC cell line. We found that aspirin treatment induced apoptosis following IkappaBalpha degradation, NFkappaB nuclear translocation and repression of NFkappaB-driven transcription, irrespective of p53 and DNA MMR status. These findings are relevant for design of both novel chemopreventative agents and chemoprevention trials in CRC.

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